Feb. 23, 2016

Alumni Spotlight: Mike Steiner, BComm'00, BA'05, MA'07, PhD'11 (Philosophy)

Arts alumni are an accomplished crew. They have great advice for students and fellow graduates, and know that arts degrees teach skills that are sought-after in the professional environment.
Alumnus Mike Steiner poses in a suit in a cubicle. There is a whiteboard behind him wth equations written on it.
Mike Steiner, BComm'00, BA'05, MA'07, PhD'11 (Philosophy)

Mike Steiner, BComm'00, BA'05, MA'07, PhD'11 is a Strategic Initiative Specialist within the Chief Information Office at TransCanada Pipelines: "I perform decision analysis and make recommendations for cases where our enterprise systems have overlaps in scope. I also perform impartial assessments on various initiatives to gauge their progress and value for the company as a whole."

What is your favourite University of Calgary memory?

Hanging out with friends and playing cards, as well as the undergrad Philosophy club!

What was your favourite campus hang out spot?

Besides the Den, I liked sitting and talking around the tables in the hallways around Science Theatres / Social Science building, and later in the Philosophy department lounge area.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same degree that you did, what would it be?

I did two undergrad degrees before my MA and PhD, and my advice is different for each.

  • For those in Business: please take a wide range of humanities/arts/social sciences, etc – there is so much to know about beyond what is simply required to earn a business degree. I recommend philosophy of course: logic, philosophy of science, and ethics as a start. If you don’t come back to school again, this is your one chance to learn about the most vexing problems of life and gain a broad perspective!
  • For those in Philosophy: please take some computer, business, and science classes – you need to know how the world works and learn some basic business skills in order to prepare yourself adequately for life in the “real” world.

How has your career evolved?

I started off as Financial Analyst after my BComm degree, and then went back to learn Philosophy after a few years. Various factors meant I couldn’t pursue a professorship in Philosophy, so I expanded my employment options. I started off as an arbitration team member for a major energy infrastructure company: I interviewed witnesses, performed copious amounts of research, and helped to build an evidential case. From there, I’ve had a more natural progression in responsibility as an analyst, doing anything from continual improvement research to what I’m doing now.

What is the best thing about your job?

I like the respect, independence, terrific learning opportunities, and the virtually unlimited career potential.

How did your arts degree help you get to where you are now/your current career?

It was the advanced degrees in Philosophy that signaled to my employer that I could work independently, perform research, communicate, and think critically. These transferable skills were crucial to getting that first job.

Do you have any other thoughts or memories you would like to share?

University, as opposed to other more technical schools, is about getting a well-rounded education. I thus encourage students to sample all topics from Finance to Philosophy – the skills learned will help you throughout your entire life. More importantly, by taking a very broad range of subjects you will learn that there is simply a lot that you don’t know. An awareness of the lacunae in one’s knowledge base goes a long ways in succeeding at life in general, and is CRUCIAL to being an effective leader.